by Matthew Thompson
The last decade has seen more and more cable networks launching their own TV series. It has seen places like Netflix and Amazon producing original content and providing an easy way to catch up on classic series we’ve never seen. All the while DVRs and OnDemand services made it possible to save stuff we missed live for viewing later. As a TV junkie, I have done my best to keep up with all the shows I could, sampling new ones liberally and seeking out hidden gems that had initially slipped by me. Over the years, the amount of shows I watch has piled higher and higher… and this year I finally reached my breaking point.
This was at least partially brought about by other factors. Uncharted 4 came out in May. For those that don’t follow the gaming side of my site, I had never been as excited for a video game release as I was for this one and I ended up obsessing over it for the better part of two months. I changed my workout frequency this summer too. Both ate into time I would have normally spent catching up on the many shows I had fallen behind on by the time network season ended in May. Sometime in July, my DVR hit its limit and I was faced with a decision: start watching some of these shows I had saved in a hurry or delete them for ones I cared more about that needed recording in the Summer. I chose to start deleting. What seemed like a tough decision was ultimately liberating. And this was just the start.
From here, I decided to re-evaluate what I was watching. I have this app that tracks all the shows I watch even stuff that I keep up with on Netflix or OnDemand that wouldn’t necessarily be on my DVR. Looking through it I found some more shows to call it quits on. Some I tried out and never really thought much of like Quantico (pictured at the top of this post). These were easy to get rid of. Others were shows I once liked quite a bit, but had since tailed off in quality. I found myself continuing with them out of pure inertia more than because I actually enjoyed them at this point. Some of these like Homeland and Sleepy Hollow got the axe too, while others I couldn’t quite cut – with one season of The Vampire Diaries left, I’m determined to see it through despite what a bore it has become.
Dropping all these shows isn’t something I’m doing because I want to watch less TV per se. I just want to make sure I’m watching stuff that is actually worth my time. These recent cuts have actually made room for me to try out some new (to me) series. Before I would open my app and see all these shows I was behind on and it would make me less likely to add another one to the pile. But now I feel better about it. I had started watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer last summer. I’ve been able to return to that and I’m even going to work Angel in alongside it now that I’ve reached the point where they run concurrently. I’ve been wanting to try Halt and Catch Fire because of the buzz the second season received last year and I am working through the first season now. I’ve been exploring some of the original shows Amazon Instant Video has to offer like Catastrophe. I’ve even decided to work my way through one of my old favorites, Veronica Mars, again.
I realize this may seem silly to some. Sticking with mediocre (or worse!) television shows is hopefully an idea that is alien to most of you. I guess I’m always thinking things could get better. But it isn’t 1996 anymore. I’m not beholden to what I catch when it airs or I taped on the VCR. If these shows improve or I want to return to them for any other reason, I can always track them down on one streaming service or another with relative ease. For the time being though, I’m watching only stuff I actually like and it feels pretty great. Hopefully I can keep this going into the new Fall season.